What to do about bul­ly­ing in the of­fice.

Three tac­tics man­agers should adopt to com­bat em­ployee hu­mil­i­a­tion, seg­re­ga­tion and be­lit­tling

National Post (Latest Edition) - Financial Post Magazine - - COLUMNS&DEPARTMENTS -

There are plenty of movie comedies about hor­ri­ble bosses who be­lit­tle or abuse their em­ploy­ees to the break­ing point. Typ­i­cally, these bosses get their come­up­pance in the end and ev­ery­one feels jus­ti­fied. Work­places gen­er­ally aren’t like the movies, but that doesn’t mean bul­ly­ing be­hav­iour doesn’t ex­ist and bosses shouldn’t be on the look­out for such be­hav­iour.

A study by work­place con­sul­tant Robert Half found that al­most 50% of em­ploy­ees have ex­pe­ri­enced an of­fice bully — not nec­es­sar­ily their boss, it should be pointed out — but 88% of man­agers feel such be­hav­iour doesn’t or rarely oc­curs. Clearly, there’s a dis­con­nect in per­cep­tions and, most likely, re­al­ity.

Gena Grif­fin, a re­gional man­ager at Robert Half, says bul­ly­ing can take many forms. In­deed, work­place­bul­ly­ing.org has a top 25 list of bad be­hav­iour that in­cludes hu­mil­i­at­ing, un­der­min­ing and seg­re­gat­ing an em­ployee. Be­ing aware of these is a good first step, but man­agers have to do more than just that. Here are three ways bosses can do bet­ter.

BE OPEN No one likes to hear em­ploy­ees are hav­ing prob­lems, but man­agers should keep an open-door pol­icy and en­sure that any worker at any level feels com­fort­able in ap­proach­ing them with any con­cerns. A com­pany’s ex­pected em­ployee be­hav­iour and any re­lated poli­cies should also be com­mu­ni­cated since bul­ly­ing may not fall un­der the le­gal def­i­ni­tion of work­place ha­rass­ment, which is more about pre­vent­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion. Man­agers then have to set the tone of what will and won’t be tol­er­ated. “There is noth­ing more cor­ro­sive to a work­place cul­ture than if you com­mu­ni­cate those ex­pec­ta­tions, but then turn a blind eye to it,” Grif­fin says.

LIS­TEN AND ACT Once an em­ployee has made a com­plaint, a man­ager has to de­cide what to do — and do­ing noth­ing, it should go with­out say­ing, is not an op­tion. Even if it is de­ter­mined that the per­ceived bully was not, in fact, guilty, man­agers may need to make that per­son aware that their un­in­ten­tional be­hav­iour is be­ing taken in an un­pro­duc­tive way and pro­vide some coach­ing on how to soften or change the way he or she acts. An ag­grieved em­ployee, mean­while, may need to learn that crit­i­cism is not al­ways the same as bul­ly­ing. “There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween con­struc­tive crit­i­cism and high­light­ing an er­ror with the pur­pose of hu­mil­i­a­tion or mak­ing the crit­i­cizer look bet­ter,” Grif­fin says.

BE PROAC­TIVE It takes a while for peo­ple to feel com­fort­able enough to re­veal that they feel they are be­ing bul­lied. The best way to avoid bul­ly­ing be­hav­iour crop­ping up is to be aware of what’s go­ing on in the work­place so that any po­ten­tial neg­a­tive be­hav­iours can be spot­ted be­fore they be­come prob­lems. “If there are any po­ten­tial neg­a­tive be­hav­iours that man­agers might be notic­ing are oc­cur­ring or are a trend, they can ac­tu­ally in­ter­vene sooner and can ef­fec­tively coach or po­ten­tially re­solve is­sues be­fore they have a greater im­pact on some­one’s morale, their pro­duc­tiv­ity, or even re­tain­ing a staff mem­ber,” Grif­fin says. Things to look out for in­clude: peo­ple who falsely ac­cuse another em­ployee or high­light things that didn’t hap­pen in or­der to make them ap­pear bet­ter; non-ver­bal cues such as giv­ing a co-worker the silent treat­ment or in­ten­tion­ally seg­re­gat­ing that per­son; and peo­ple who cre­ate and per­pet­u­ate de­struc­tive ru­mours or gos­sip about a spe­cific in­di­vid­ual. “If you see it, as a man­ager it’s bet­ter not to be wait­ing for some­one to come and talk to you about it,” Grif­fin says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.